We’ve all seen pictures of geisha, but there’s a mystery about them that, unless we get the chance to go behind-the-scenes ourselves, will always remain unknown.

But this video of a senior maiko painting her face will give you a small glimpse of what life as a geisha, or a geisha-in-training, might look like.

The video was taken in 1999 by Windfall Films, and shows an apprentice geiko (called maiko) doing her makeup. While the terms “geisha” and “geiko” both refer to traditional Japanese female entertainers highly trained in Japanese traditional arts, “geiko” has primarily been used to refer to those in Kyoto. However, in recent years the term “geisha” has become the general term used to refer to these women.

The woman in this video is a senior maiko, which can be inferred from her ofuku hairstyle particular of those in her rank.

The video above is a shortened version of the full 33-minute video. If you want to see the face-painting process in all its beauty, here it is.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.